I have a list of local places to visit as I have found that exploring helps me to understand more about the place in which I am living. One of the places on my radar was Napatree Point in Westerly, Rhode Island. I arrived and was having trouble finding parking. My GPS was directing me to turn down a road that I couldn’t seem to access. I pulled into a parking lot and told the parking attendant that I was trying to get to Napatree Point, and she helpfully pointed out a sand dune in the distance and said that it was just over that dune. And then the conversation went something like this: “Great!” “But you can’t park here.” “Oh.” “This parking lot is only for those who are shopping. Are you staying for more than 2 hours?” “Yes, I think so.” “Okay, well then you can’t park on the street either.” “Okay.” “If you drive up that hill over there there’s a small parking lot on the left and you’ll be able to get a spot since you’re here early. Have a good day!” “Thank you.”
Alright, I thought to myself. I made it. The beach is just over that sand dune. Let me park my car first and I’ll have to walk a ways. So I made my way up to the parking lot and spoke to that parking attendant. “Are you going to the beach?” “Yes.” “Here’s how this goes: the first half hour is free, every hour after that is $10 with a $60 a day max.” “Oh!” “So just drive to the gate, and take your ticket with you. You’ll pay by credit card when you leave.”
Now the Midwesterner in me screams internally at this kind of thing. Why couldn’t I park in the parking lot right next to the beach? Oh because that was reserved for high-end shopping, a row of beachfront houses, and the Westerly Yacht Club (literally.) Now I know that these beach communities get a great deal of revenue from summer tourists, but I grew up going to some of the best beaches on the East Coast in Ocracoke, North Carolina (in the Outer Banks) and parking was free!
So I’ll admit I was cranky as I carried my stuff like a pack animal down a hill, through a large and empty parking lot past that yacht club, and over a sand dune to arrive at the beach. Though on the way, I adjusted my attitude and enjoyed a beautiful summer day on the beach. All of this made me think about expectations versus reality, about access to God’s creation, about how sometimes we have to adjust our attitudes to not ruin a good thing. No matter what it takes to get there, it’s ultimately up to us to enjoy the beauty all around us.
Or in the words of the Psalmist that always manage to pierce your sometimes cranky pastor’s heart: “O give thanks to God, for God is good, God’s steadfast love endures forever. . . who spread out the earth on the waters, for God’s steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136)
(This Week’s Thoughts 8.30.18)